Ten writers for children. All with something to say.


A Solitary Writer?

My husband tells me that I should go out more. But when I'm not traveling, I like to be home writing and reading, with my Lily Maltese on my lap and my husband upstairs working. He has a regular office, but I beg him to work from home. I am downstairs; he is upstairs--yet I know he's there and that makes me feel good. Lily and I growl when he leaves for his office, then we realize that we have each other and all those characters in my head talking at the same time, competing for my attention. I'm never alone.

I have a wonderful writing group: Ellen Howard, David Gifaldi, Pamela Smith Hill, Susan Fletcher, Nancy Coffelt, Eric Kimmel, Winifred Morris. Unlike other people, I take rough drafts to them. What they have to say guides me--even though at first, my mind growls. It takes me a few days to digest their comments and Voilá! I finally get it. I wouldn't be published today if I had belong to writing groups. Objective readers can catch issues that I don't.

All of my editors I have met at conferences. I was ignorant enough to follow Robert Warren (Harper & Row--please don't count the years) at a Willamette Writers conference in Portland, Oregon. He had to smoke, and we were outside when I told him the first story of my Juan Bobo. He asked me if I could write it as an I Can Read. I said yes, but I had no idea what and easy-to-read was. At home I studied Frog and Toad, Amelia Bedelia, you name it, and Robert bought the manuscript.

I met Harold Underdown and Margery Cuyler at Oregon SCBWI retreats. Harold had a group critique. My manuscript was on top. Still, when he said, "She even researched the photos!" I took it as saying "How she dared when this book is so far from ready." When the session was over, I told him that I had received an SCBWI grant to go to Puerto Rico, and while I was there I took advantage to find photos. He looked at me and said, "I want to buy this book." That was my first biography. Little did I know that I was going to write six more with Margery Cuyler at Marshall Cavendish Book for Children.

So, I recommend solitude to write, writing groups to revise, and conferences to be published.


Edie Hemingway said...

You have done well to meet all of your editors at conferences!

Lauren said...

What wonderful advice and what wonderful meetings you have had wherever you go! If we can all keep that early innocence about us, think of the wonderful things that could happen?!

Christy said...

Harold and I know each other from 20 years ago working at Macmillan! He was smart to recognize your talent and commitment. The eagnerness you showed in studying early readers and doing photo research is also the kind of passion that is so evident in your work. Sounds like you have a great balance of being out in the world, and then nestling into your solitude to funnel all you've discovered into your books.

Mark said...

That last sentence says it all!